Shame Bath

Fucktard arrived 10 minutes early to pick up the kids today. Of course, they weren’t ready, and even though my son, who was last out the door, was two minutes early, he said to his dad as he walked out, “I’m sorry I took so long.” This hurt my heart and I thought about how my little boy is going into this shame bath at his dad’s, into some sick world of mixed messages and weird things happening, a world that teaches him to apologize for taking too long when he certainly did not take too long. It made me hearken back to when I was married to this man, how I apologized for taking too long, for breathing, for having thoughts, for wanting to be human in his eyes. I remembered how it felt to be immersed in that sickness, how very disorienting and awful.

To me, the most debilitating message a child can be given is, “you’re not good enough.” Knowing that my child will have this message poured all over his little body while he is at his dad’s hurts my heart in the deepest way. It makes me want to redouble my efforts to make my home a home of grace, of pouring love and acceptance and no need to apologize for just being yourself. And it makes me thankful that my children have a place where I at least strive to have a home that is a contrast to shame, a home of love and truth.

I was thinking today of writing what I will someday tell my kids. But I didn’t have the heart. It is a shitty position to be placed in. Most of the time I’m your average overly-anxious single mom, stressed out and worn down by court dates, control tactics, and just plain constant fighting off of disrespect. Yes, I chose your father and I thought he’d be a good one. But in marriage and divorce he created a situation that was all about him and did not allow you to have the childhood you needed. The one, at least, that I dreamed you’d have. The one where divorced parents might not get along, but they care more about the children than themselves and they don’t set out to cripple each other. I feel guilty for that enmity happening, that your father decided I was an enemy and that cruelly punishing me took precedence over your childhood. That he put us in a position of possibly losing or not having the things we need. That he posts things about helping women and girls be strong in the world but he can’t live it by being supportive of your mother. That he won’t work to fully support you. He could never set an example of deep respect for a woman. I wish I could give you more….he can’t give you activities that reflect your interests, but will give activities that reflect his. I wish he hadn’t punished me in court so I could nurture your gifts properly instead of always fighting off poverty.

I wish you had a home and didn’t have to be shuffled between two homes like cattle. I never wanted that. I never wanted you to be un-fathered, but I didn’t want you to be treated like property and have a forced bonding with someone who marginalized you until threatened with having to pay child support and then you lose your innocence. I didn’t want you to lose relationship with me like you did and for that I am sorry. I did my best to hold you when you cried that you wanted to be with me. I am sorry you cried at your dad’s and he took it personally and determined that you needed “toughening up.” I am sorry when you tried to come out and hug me he stopped you…you with the loving heart, the beautiful little boy you are. My heart breaks over and over.

Instead of normal childhood worries, or in addition to, you have to carry your father’s sickness with you. You don’t even know what that means but I guarantee you will always try to please someone who cannot be pleased, not even by you: your father. I worry that your sister is the favored child, and she can be downright nasty towards you. I wonder if she hears that from your dad?

My heart…this just sucks and fucking hurts. I am so sorry, my sweet boy, my dear children. I hope someday we can have this conversation and you will forgive me for what I could not do.



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